Red Deer River remains a healthy watershed

The Red Deer River is a healthy river and watershed, according to Alberta’s environment minister.

“We do still need to be vigilant and we need to ensure that we are mindful of emissions,” said Rob Renner, Alberta environment minister. “I think the only restriction we have and it’s more a political than an actual regulation is we’re trying our very best to avoid having treated sewage put into the Red Deer River downstream from the City. That’s why we’ve encouraged and supported a lot of the regional water and wastewater systems in this area.”

Renner was in Red Deer recently to speak at the Red Deer River Watershed Alliance annual general meeting.

“I was talking about the importance of community based groups like the watershed advisory councils in both the stewardship component of protecting our valuable water courses and also from the point of view from long term planning,” he said in his speech. “The state of the Red Deer River watershed report gives us a really good basis from which we can do our long term planning to determine what are the kinds of protections we have to have in this watershed and how we’re going to incorporate those into some regional plans that will eventually cover this region and all of Alberta as well.”

For the Red Deer River, there are currently no restrictions on licenses.

“Ultimately if licenses were to come into effect for the Red Deer River, they would be put into effect right across the province,” said Renner. “Water is not an unlimited quantity, it’s a valuable resources but it is a limited resource. We have to be vigilant that we protect the aquatic viability of our river systems. It’s not a case of being able to license every last drop of water that’s in the river. There has to be sufficient water that’s unlicensed to maintaining the viability of the river.

“There are not pressures on the Red Deer River at this point in time, but that’s not to say with unrestricted development and without keeping our eye on the outcomes that we couldn’t find ourselves in a difficult position.”

In terms of funding for watershed alliances across the province, Renner said there are no planned cuts to base funding at this time.

“We’ve been able to fund the watershed advisory councils throughout the province through the pressures that we’ve been facing. While hope that they explore opportunities to increase their funding for various projects they might want to take on. We see their role to be a valid one for the government to be able to support them from a base perspective,” he said.

Currently, the 11 watershed advisory councils in the province receive a maximum of $250,000 annually.

efawcett@reddeerexpress.com

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